PIL demands judicial inquiry into Nagpur floods, compensation; HC seeks government’s response

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday issued notices to various agencies of the Maharashtra government seeking replies to a Public Interest Litigation seeking judicial inquiry into the causes of the floods that threw normal life out of gear in Nagpur city last month, and compensation for the affected families.

Advocate Tushar Mandlekar, who represented the petitioners, argued that illegal constructions made by government agencies worsened the situation as natural water channels were blocked.

There should be a judicial enquiry to fix the responsibility, he said, claiming that the overflowing of Ambazari lake, which led to the flooding, resulted from the negligent attitude of the civic authorities.

A division bench of Justices Atul Chandurkar and Vrushali Joshi issued notices to the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, Secretary Irrigation Department, Secretary Relief and Rehabilitation Department, District Collector, Municipal Commissioner, Nagpur Improvement Trust, Heritage Committee, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Maha Metro and Irrigation Department, and directed them to file replies in three weeks.

The PIL has been filed by Ramgopal Agrawal, Jayashree Bansod and Natthuji Tikkas, all residents of areas affected by the floods.

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Natural water channels were blocked due to illegal constructions of Maha Metro and Nagpur Municipal Corporation, the petition said, claiming that as the floodwaters could not pass through the Nag river, the surrounding residential areas got inundated.

The PIL demanded Rs 2,000 crore for rejuvenation of the Nag river, Rs 250 crore for construction and repairs of sewage and drainage lines, and ex-gratia compensation of Rs five lakh to each affected family which comes to around Rs 1,000 crore.

The petitioners also demanded relocation of the Vivekananda Smarak constructed in front of a spillway of Ambazari dam and the constitution of an expert committee for the assessment of the damage to the dam.

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